Chocolate vessel depicting a royal bloodletting scene in a palace

Unknownc. 600 - 850 AD

Reading Public Museum

Reading Public Museum
Reading, United States

This vessel shows a ruler seated on his jaguar skin throne as he uses the long perforator in his left hand to draw his own blood as a sacrifice to the gods. In front of him is a seated old man who offers pieces of paper soaked with the ruler’s blood to the mask of a god laying in a low bowl, while two attendants watch the ceremony. Because the ruler is the most important person in the kingdom, the tonalli contained in his blood is the most precious and most powerful to offer the god. A highly valued chocolate drink spiced with hot chilis was a luxury beverage consumed from specially decorated cylindrical vessels such as this by rulers and elite members of Maya society. An inscription around the rim identifies the chocolate pot and its owner, while the L-shaped inscription reads that the surface was painted on 13 Ajaw 8 Kej, a date in the Maya solar calendar in the years A.D. 796 or 848, close to the very end of high culture among the Maya.


  • Title: Chocolate vessel depicting a royal bloodletting scene in a palace
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: c. 600 - 850 AD
  • Physical Dimensions: 7.5625"h x 5.75"diam.
  • Type: object
  • Medium: slipped earthenware
  • Culture: Maya Culture, Mexico
  • Credit Line: Museum Purchase

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